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17 January 2018

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06/16/2008 CAMBODIA - CHINA

Dragon's shadow lengthens over Cambodia

Economic activity between the two countries is being stepped up in the sectors of trade, industry, and tourism. China also offers military assistance, while the percentage of students studying Mandarin is increasing. But the Chinese influence is also bringing corruption and the exploitation of manual labour.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews) - Chinese influence is growing in Cambodia: the Asian giant, thirsty for energy and raw materials, and interested in extending its influence in the region, is stepping forward as the country's leading investor and trade partner.  This influence is not limited to trade and industry, but extends to the social and cultural level, since the Chinese language has become an essential point of reference in the business world, surpassing even the monopoly held until now by English.

Relations between the two countries date back to the end of the 1950's, and were reinforced two decades later during the bloody regime of the Maoist dictator Pol Pot, actively supported by China, in spite of the genocide of the Khmer people, which caused the death of more than one million Cambodians in less than five years.  Sources for the Chinese News Agency say that China is one of Cambodia's main trade partners, thanks to the 3,016 Chinese businesses operating in the territory, which produced 1.58 billion dollars at the end of 2007.  Last year, bilateral trade grew by 30% compared to 2006, for a total volume of investments of 730 million dollars.  This support is not limited to economic exchange, but is also reflected in the country's defence system: China is providing military assistance to Cambodia, strengthening its marine fleet with nine patrol boats in 2007, and five warships in 2005.

But there is another side to the Chinese presence: human rights and anti-corruption activists denounce an exponential growth in illegal logging, land-grabbing, and worker exploitation, and a dizzying increase in corruption levels.  According to Simon Taylor, director of the international group Global Witness, "the effect of lots of money coming in with few strings attached, going to a lot of people in the government, is generally exacerbating corruption".

In the meantime, the Cambodian government has approved the construction of two hydroelectric power plants, to be built by Chinese companies.  Work will begin by the end of 2008.  The project is opposed by environmentalists, who denounce "serious damage to the country's ecosystem, and risks to the lives of thousands of people".  The dams will be constructed in the province of Koh Kong, in the southwest of the country.  The project will bring an investment of 540 million dollars from the China National Heavy Machinery Corp., and 495.7 million dollars from the Michelle Corp.  It is expected to produce 338 megawatts of electricity.

Investments from Chinese companies are also prompting students in the country to study Mandarin over English (which nevertheless remains the most widespread foreign language), because it is becoming indispensable for business: it represents a fundamental resource for finding a better position in the professional arena, in the sectors of industry and tourism.  The most important Chinese school in Cambodia is the Duan Hoa Chinese School in Phnom Penh, subdivided into two different sectors with more than 7,000 enrolled students; the second, the Chhung Cheng Chinese School, is fairly popular among Chinese-Khmer families, and numbers about 2,000 students.  The government, finally, expects to add Chinese to the obligatory curriculum of its universities.






See also

23/02/2008 TIBET - CHINA
The language of Tibet at risk of extinction
The Chinese authorities occupying Tibet are a serious threat for the survival of the local language, and are making life "impossible" for the Tibetans who do not speak Mandarin Chinese.

11/01/2018 14:15:00 CAMBODIA-CHINA
New economic agreements with Beijing: Phnom Penh increasingly distant from the West

The two countries are linked by a solid political, economic and military understanding. China provides loans for the construction of an airport and a motorway. Bilateral trade between the two countries will reach $ 6 billion by 2020. 



31/07/2017 13:41:00 CHINA
Beijing bans the use and teaching of the Uyghur language in Xinjiang schools

The decree will come into effect at the beginning of the new school year. Schools will have to use Mandarin, according to the principle of bilingual education. The government announces severe punishment for anyone who "plays politics, pretends to implement, or acts one way and does another”. Uyghurs slam the plan to wipe out their mother tongue and increase their assimilation into Han Chinese culture.



19/07/2007 CAMBODIA
UN project to save the rare Mekong dolphins
An UN project aims to safeguard the species at risk of extinction and boost tourism in the area. Today the local fishermen live on less than 50 cents a day.

15/01/2011 TIBET – CHINA
Human rights worse in Tibet in 2010
A report by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy notes that intellectuals, monks and students are the most affected. Beijing wants to settle the Tibetan issue once and for all through violence and repressive laws and by further tightening its stranglehold over the territory.


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